Together Scotland’s report on children’s rights

Together Scotland is an alliance of over 500 charities and organisations working to promote the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Last year the Scottish government unanimously passed the The UNCRC Incorporation Bill, which, when implemented, will enshrine the human rights of children in Scottish law. There are some legal issues to work out before the bill becomes law, but the government has said that “the majority of implementation work can, and should, continue
whilst these technical issues are resolved.”

Together Scotland’s latest report, The State of Children’s Rights Report 2022, aims to help public and private organisations and individuals to understand the UNCRC and use its principles to support and protect Scotland’s children.

Its key findings were:

Children need to be included in decision making

Where children engaged with organisations in decision making, often they weren’t able to see what impact they had, or did not know how to hold decision makers to account. COVID 19 impacted many organisations’ ability to communicate with children. The pandemic highlighted a need for child-friendly, inclusive online communication, with many organisations working creatively to acheive this.

Communication needs to be inclusive

Disabled and early years children in particular need to be provided with effective ways to communicate with organisations. Organisations are exploring the use of social media, peer-research and “supportive techniques which utilise existing relationships” and are sharing good practice with other organisations.

More awareness and understanding needed 

Lack of knowledge about children’s rights, lack of funding and exclusion of at-risk children need to be addressed and have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The report explores research, learning resources, awareness, training and
funding.

Children need better access to justice in the legal system

The report identifies difficulties for children in accessing independent advocacy and notes that “Long waiting
times, unsatisfying outcomes, adult-focused language create difficulties for informal and formal complaints to be made by children”. Staff training, inclusive communication and child friendly complaints procedures are needed.

Budgeting for child’s rights is poorly understood

Many organisations are confused by terminology and different budgeting models. The report finds good examples of organisations working to change this, including involving children in budgeting decisions.

Knowledge gaps on Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA)

Some organisations struggle to find the right data to complete a CRIA, and don’t know how to involve children in the process. The report shows examples of “charities that have developed their own CRIA models, organisations that have started to conduct CRIAs of their policies and processes, and work to ensure children’s views shape the outcome of CRIAs”.

Read the ful report at https://www.togetherscotland.org.uk/media/2204/socrr-22_final.pdf. You can access a child-friendly version here: https://www.togetherscotland.org.uk/media/2205/socrrchildfriendly_v5.pdf and an easy read version here: https://www.togetherscotland.org.uk/media/2210/easy_read_v3.docx

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